Out of the blue - Fans' joy at the return of Connolly
Boys in Blue fans everywhere were overjoyed yesterday after manager Jim Gavin quietly confirmed that forward Diarmuid Connolly is back training with the county squad.
The surprise news, which was delivered in the most understated way by Gavin - Connolly's name was read in a list of players in training for the senior panel - has been greeted with sheer delight.
It comes after it appeared the 32-year-old St Vincents man's inter-county career was coming to an end, having made few appearances in the last three years.
He had also moved to the US where he was playing with Donegal Boston, but a visa delay scuppered his return this summer.
The revelation that Connolly was back in blue came in an interview Gavin gave after his side swept away Cork on Saturday with a 5-18 to 1-17 victory.
"Last night's game was tough," he told Dubs TV.
"There's a lot of tired bodies this morning but the guys will get as much recovery as they can and they will all go back to work in the morning.
"It's good. We've got James McCarthy back on the pitch, Eoin Murchan, Johnny Cooper. Diarmuid Connolly is back training with us," he said.
Dubs fan Stephen Jenkinson, from Balbriggan, believes Connolly's return will certainly ensure a five-in-a-row All-Ireland win for the Boys in Blue. He was at Saturday's game at Croke Park with his children Aoibhe-Lily (9) and Sam (7).
He said the Dubs will benefit "hugely" from getting one of its star players back on the field.
"There's not a squad in the land he wouldn't march into," Mr Jenkinson said.
"Diarmuid is an absolute genius and was made to play football. His technique, physicality and character will do wonders for the Dubs again.
"When I heard he was going to Boston it was obviously disappointing but I knew he would come back eventually.
"I believe he definitely has a good few years left in him and will continue to play a pivotal role in securing future All-Ireland wins for the Dubs," he said.
The father-of-two added that Saturday's match was an incredible spectacle, especially in the 20C sunshine.
"It was a great game. The first half was very tight, but the Dubs really kicked into gear, with Jack McCaffrey on another level altogether. The three of us supporting the Boys in Blue in the sunshine on Saturday was fantastic, nothing beats it.
"We have Roscommon to play next week and while I'm sure we'll do well, I won't be counting our chickens just yet," he added.